Wheeling Central rallies twice to upend Harrison

WHEELING — With the bases loaded and no one out in the bottom of the eighth inning of a 4-4 deadlock Wednesday afternoon it became “Knight Time” for Wheeling Central’s softball team. Peyton Knight that is.

Knight’s line drive to left field was misplayed into a game-winning base hit as the Maroon Knights twice overcame two-run deficits and finally outlasted Harrison Central to post a thrilling 5-4 victory over the Huskies on Lisa’s Field at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Sports Complex.

It turned into a game that either team could have won, and either could have lost and seemingly both teams did each about three different times along the way. Wheeling Central (8-7) outhit Harrison Central by a 13-3 margin, however, the Huskies (10-5) were beneficiaries of six Maroon Knights errors and seven walks.

With the game knotted at 2-2 in the top of the sixth, the visitors used a little two-out lightning to seemingly take control. Danyel Beadling worked a two-out walk and went to third on Jenna Young’s single that was misplayed leaving runners at second and third.

Another Wheeling Central error allowed both runners to score on a ball that never left the infield and gave the Huskies a 4-2 lead.

The Maroon Knights loaded the bases in the home half of the frame and eventually cut the deficit to 4-3 on winning pitcher Kyla Tharp’s second hit and second RBI of the contest.

After playing flawlessly in the field for six innings, a pair of miscues in the bottom of the seventh helped Wheeling Central knot the score and force extra innings, but the third of three base-running miscues cost the hosts a chance to win the game in the inning.

Maggie Fahey, the No. 9 hitter, chased home the tying run with her second hit of the contest forcing extra innings.

Harrison Central put two runners on in the top of the eighth, but a base running error by the Huskies had the third out gunned down at third base on an over-run.

Coach Buck Davidson’s Maroon Knights ended up scoring the game-winner without an out in the eighth. Tharp led off with her third hit of the game just ahead of Ally Davidson’s double that put runners on second and third. After senior Kaitlyn Ferns was intentionally walked Knight laced a shot to left that couldn’t be handled with courtesy runner Macy Comfort racing home with the game-winner.

“We felt like we needed to clean up the errors in the field coming in and we didn’t do a very good job of that (Wednesday),” Buck Davidson said. “We also made some base-running mistakes and if that ball is caught in left field in the eighth we are going to get doubled-up at third base.

“This is still a young team that is learning on the go, and unfortunately it has been a slower process than I had hoped. We have the talent to make a serious run we just need to go out and show it.

“Harrison Central is a very fundamental team and we got lucky with some things (Wednesday), but the girls kept battling. We also need to show the kind of enthusiasm in every game that we did out there.”

Tharp and Jarika Baylor each had three hits on the day while Ferns celebrated Senior Day, as the only senior on the team, with a triple.

“With our pitching staff we have to make the routine plays and we have to finish,” Harrison coach Darrin Young said. “Wheeling Central is a solid young team.

“We also had trouble getting any big hits with runners on. Our team was hot early in the season but we have been slumping and we just need to keep chipping away.

“This is a game we need to shake off quickly with Edison coming to Cadiz on Thursday. I told the girls if you let this one get you down Edison is going to come in and run you out of Cadiz.”

The Huskies took a 2-0 lead early with single runs in the second and third innings but did not get their first hit until the fifth. Wheeling Central scored single runs in the third, on a Tharp sacrifice fly, and fourth on Rachel Cupp’s two-out single that plated Ferns.

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